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Book of the Week #59 "A Lesson in Love and Murder"

by Rachel MacMillan

In 1912, the anarchist movement is gaining speed. Shouting for equality, those involved in the movement seem to have a great goal in mind; a goal that is appealing to a liberal minded lady detective in Toronto. Yet they use deadly means to get their point across. When Detective Constable Jasper Forth's colleague is killed in an explosion caused by one of the anarchists, Merinda Herringford finds that the attacks are hitting too close to home. Meanwhile, Jem receives some news that is surprising to everyone. As this all takes place, Jem and Ray discover how short their courtship really was as they butt heads over Jem's determination to continue pursuing detective work. Add to this the fact that Ray's brother-in-law Tony has moved Ray's sister Viloa and her son Luca to Chicago and isn't fulfilling his duties, leaving Ray responsible for taking care of their finances, things get stressful for the newlyweds.

Amidst all the chaos, Benny Citrone of the Royal North-West Mounted Police is hunting for his cousin Jonathan. Jonathan has become enraptured by the anarchist movement, leaving the wilderness of northern Canada for the bustling city of Toronto. Being more used to tracking lynx and moose, Benny finds himself lost in an attempt to find his cousin in the city. So, he hires the first detectives he finds. He's shocked to learn that Herringford and Watts are women, but his astonishment doesn't last long when he finds himself falling for the boisterous Merinda. And despite herself, Merinda doesn't find Benny entirely repulsive either.

When Viola sends for Ray after things go downhill in Chicago, Ray leaves a note to Jem and boards the first train south, though the two are not on the best of terms given their problems. Soon, the search for Jonathan leads Herringford and Watts to Chicago, in the heart of Theodore Roosevelt's rally for equality in the states. Danger is lurking around every corner, but there's a lesson to be learned for everyone connected to Herringford and Watts.

Oh, Ms. Merinda, what can one say about this spitfire? I love Merinda. True, she has a very hard shell, most of which I think she uses to protect herself. Her ways may be unorthodox, though she is ultimately after the greater good. Jem is such a sweetheart and I love her too, though I feel that I relate to Merinda more in her pursuit of equality and unwillingness to conform. This book seems to center more around Merinda, whereas The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder was more focused on Jem.

I liked Benny Citrone. I liked that he let Merinda have her space. He wasn't always trying to be a big protector to her and didn't treat her like a "lady detective." He simply treated her the way he would any of his other friends; he was there for her when she needed him, but he didn't smother her. Though there is a scene toward the end that's a little more than friendly, though that's all I'll say about that. I still like Jasper, though. He's just pitiful in his love for Merinda.

Jem and Ray had a bit of a tough go in this book. Ray worries about Jem pursuing such a dangerous career, and this is amplified by their finance issues and the stress of Tony dragging Viola and Luca around the world and not really doing anything for them, leaving Ray responsible to keep them going. By the end of the book, things aren't totally resolved, though we're led to believe that things will work out for Ray and Jem in the future.

I really love that through everything, Jem and Merinda stick together. Friendships like theirs only come around once in a lifetime, and are far too rare to throw away simply because other aspects of life change. I can just see them when they're old and grey, still solving cases, Jem still trying to keep Merinda out of trouble.

All in all, A Lesson in Love and Murder is another wonderful installment to The Herringford and Watts Mysteries series that any fan of cozy mysteries, strong female characters, or simply good fiction would enjoy.

I give this book a 5 out of 5.


  1. I'm about 66% into this one. I'm liking it, but not finding much reading time lately and have some other books going on for review for authors. There needs to be more hours in my day. :)

    1. Awesome, Julie! I'm glad you're liking it. I totally agree; there need to be more hours in the day for reading!

  2. YES! I'm not reading this review (because it's one of my next reads/reviews), but I'm super glad to see Rachel's follow up earns five stars. Those are the best kind of reads. Hopefully (if not this month) then in October I'll be reading this one. For now I have Melissa Tagg's novel and a YA dystopian read for my Silver Petticoat gig. :)


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